So in a small ray of journalistic sunshine in the hurricane of Michael Jackson coverage, Fareed Zakaria was interviewing a former CIA field agent who specialized in working in the Middle East, Robert Baer. Baer was arguing that what we are seeing in Iran is a coup d'etat by the Revolutionary Guard. He's not the only one suggesting this. As evidence he pointed to the rapid and aggressive response by the Basij who are directly controlled by the Revolutionary Guard. He also pointed out that Ahmadinejad is a former officer in the Revolutionary Guard and has significant influence with its leadership. He had some other arguments but let's assume for the moment that this is what happened in June of 2009.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
If this was essentially a military coup, then the proper comparison for the demonstrations in Iran right now is not Eastern Europe in 1989 but rather Poland in 1981. In Poland, the Communist party rule of the country was essentially replaced by martial law under the command of General Jaruzelski. Jaruzelski was a member of the party but his career was a military one, not a party one. His take over marked the effective end of Communist Party rule in Poland. Of course the Jaruzelski government took pains to maintain the impression of continued Communist rule and they maintained the military alliance with the USSR. But the Party no longer dominated. In the classes I took in college on Easter European nationalism and democratization, I heard/read that many of the last "true believers" in Communism in Poland became jaded and disillusioned at this point. It was the beginning of the end of Communism in that country.
The analogy in Iran could be that this is the end of Islamic Revolution. The mullahs are no longer in control. They have been replaced by a military clique that, while maintaining the outward appearance of the Islamic Republic, is essentially military rather than religious in character. Just as Jaruzelski's approach to government was that of a military dictator rather than a committed Party Boss. In Poland it took several years and one more crisis to really complete the downfall of communism. If this analogy is valid, it may take a similar degree of patience for the Iranians.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 2:37 PM